Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Spotlight On Dr. Towanna Freeman, Certified Professional Coach & President of CoachDiversity, Washington, DC: LoftTalk @ Loft101.net Contributor One on One Exclusive Interview - November 2015

Sometimes in life we take chances on things that we hope will result in our favor.  Other times, we take a leap of faith, believing that no matter what happens, we know that if we don’t take the opportunity, we will never know how things could have turned out.  I did exactly what I just shared with you, I took a leap of faith and fortunately it worked out in my favor! 

This month, I had an opportunity to interview Dr. Towanna Freeman.  She is an award-winning author and management consultant based in Washington, DC.  She is the President of the CoachDiversity Institute and the creator of the Black Life Coaches Network.  She has been featured on AOL Black Voices, The Grio, AT&T’s “28 Days of Inspiration”, Essence.com and Jet Magazine.

Dr. Freeman is a professional coach, certified by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC), an ICF-accredited coaching institute.  During our interview, Dr. Freeman shared candidly with me on areas of entrepreneurship, the pursuit of coaching and following your dreams. She also shared what she is most thankful for during this Thanksgiving holiday.

This exclusive interview is enjoyable, informative and invaluable for anyone that is an idealistic and believes that dreams do still come true!

“Thank you” Dr. Freeman for sharing your insights with LOFT101.net.  You are an amazing person and one that exemplifies excellence!

Happy Thanksgiving & Blessings to all of my Loft101.net subscribers, contributors, followers and viewers during this Thanksgiving Holiday.  I wish you and yours the very best always :-)!
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LOFT101.net:   Good Morning Dr. Freeman. Welcome to LOFT101.net!  I am excited to have this opportunity to speak with you today and to have the pleasure of interviewing you.  Dr. Freeman is the President of CoachDiversity and an award-winning author and management consultant based in Washington, DC.  She is a professional coach certified by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, an ICF-accredited coaching institute.  So, Dr. Freeman, how are you today?
Dr. Freeman:  Good Morning Deborah!  Wonderful!  I’m doing well and thank you for inviting me today to speak to your viewers at LOFT101.net. I’m excited to be on this call with you!
LOFT101.net:  Yes, I am excited, as well! Congratulations on launching the CoachDiversity Institute!  Can you share with the LOFT101.net viewers more about CoachDiversity?
Dr.  Freeman:  Of course!  CoachDiversity is the only coach training program in the world whose mission is to empower diverse communities through coaching.  We believe in the transformative power of coaching not only for the individuals but for the entire communities and the world around us.  We have a vision for a world that no matter your race, ethnicity, gender, orientation, or religion, both you and your community can succeed in life.  We believe that coaching is the perfect mechanism to bring about this social change.
LOFT101.net:  Wow!  I absolutely love your blended approach to coaching.    Let me ask you this:  Many potential entrepreneurs are intimidated by the risks and fears of starting a new business.  What can you share or recommend that would help them overcome those challenges?
Dr. Freeman:  Starting your own business and/or becoming a creative in this world is something great.  It is not for the faint of heart.  It requires you to do more work.  It requires a lot more time and sacrifice.  I have to be very honest about that.  Some people feel that it’s easy to be an entrepreneur and/or own your own business.  It is twice the amount of work that you would have if you were to punch a clock as an employee.  You have to understand not to be intimidated by the work you put in but more so, look at the skills you currently possess.  What are you good at?  It’s not the product or service I’m speaking about, it’s about the natural talent you have to be a business owner.  Sometimes you can have a great idea but you may not be CEO minded, so you may not have those skills.  It would be a good idea to write down the skills you are good at and this way you will know what you don’t have to outsource for.  Once you know the things that you are good at, you will then be able to identify with the individuals you will need to outsource for, to help you with those other areas. This way, you will not have to go at it alone.
LOFT101.net:  That’s good to know.  Thank you for sharing in depth with us on that subject.  I use to be an entrepreneur myself and found that I stumbled many times because I didn’t have the experience in areas I needed to know about, in order to be successful.  Writing down your skills is an excellent start!  So, let’s talk a little bit more about CoachDiversity.  What is the primary principle that differentiates CoachDiversity from other coaching institutes?
Dr. Freeman:  Well, I can tell you outside of the diversity of the type of skill (skill diversity), we are the only training program in the world that is designed to empower diverse communities in coaching.  Because we are focused on people of color, ethnicity, gender, orientation and religious backgrounds, our policy for focusing on the issues and not being ashamed or afraid to address them, is important to us.
Loft101.net:  That’s a really worthy perspective.  It sounds as though CoachDiversity wants to help coaches deal with uncomfortable situations that they may encounter in their diverse community. What is the most critical talent you possess in your role as the President of CoachDiversity?
Dr. Freeman:  I have over 25 years of work experience.  I’ve worked for the Federal Government, as well as, Corporate America.  I’ve managed people.  My natural talent is to run the company and to use my coaching skills and everything else that comes with it to move the company forward as it continues to grow. 
LOFT101.net:  That’s great.  Having that vast amount of experience that you have should be helpful in moving CoachDiversity forward.  What skills or talents does a participant need to enroll in Coach Diversity?
Dr. Freeman:  None at all.  They just need to be open to the process.  We have what we call Weekend One and Weekend Two.  If you want to come in and check out coaching and get a taste of what coaching is about, we recommend you registering for the “Be the Change” Weekend One. It’s a live exchange that is powerful.  Coaching is not about giving advice and you will learn that at the “Be the Change” Weekend One.
LOFT101.net:  As you are sitting here with me today on this call, what do you think individuals need to consider most before pursuing a coaching career?
Dr. Freeman:  Well, I can tell you that with a career in coaching, the possibilities are endless.  There are so many people that have become successful in coaching, so it is a thriving career.  You can build your own coaching business or become an internal coach in an organization. So in developing relationships with people that are coaches is a great start with helping someone decide if a coaching career is for them.  Coaching is a skill and there are a variety of ways to leverage a coaching career. You want to make sure you understand that investing in yourself to become a coach is very practical, you get the great education, the training and the skills and then you are able to move around and offer your services to the world.  I would recommend that before you pursue a coaching career, do your due diligence and look around and know that it is a thriving industry!  Coaching is a skill.  It is not a profession or business.  You are your business. You have to sell your skill and apply it to whatever you choose to do with it.
LOFT101.net:  This is so valuable for me to be able to talk to you and interview on this coaching career question.  Sometimes your career finds you and my coaching career actually found me. So my pursuit was a little different.  How can someone find out more about CoachDiversity before considering enrollment?
Dr. Freeman:  Log onto CoachDiversity.com to find out more!  Click on certification and you can look and see the details that I may not have mentioned during this interview.  It will give you full details of the programs being offered.  Currently, we have special pricing for the Spring Session for the new promotion and it will save you money.  We also offer payment plans.
LOFT101.net:  Great!  I know people appreciate the flexibility and availability of a payment plan.  In closing, what can you share with the LOFT101.net viewers that have a desire to follow their dreams, goals and expectations but simply don’t know how to get started?
Dr. Freeman:  If you have some type of passion and you feel you have a purpose and you have yet to execute on that because you may not know how, I would definitely recommend that you connect yourself with people that have that experience to create an outline of the basic things you can do to get started.  A lot of times we have that fear and limiting belief that we can’t do something.  I would encourage you to surround yourself with not only positive people with positive energy but people that are knowledgeable, encouraging, equipped, supportive and very willing to hold you accountable, to take action.  A lot of times we don’t have an accountability partner.  This is the reason why people consider hiring professional coaches because they will be your accountability partner. 
LOFT101.net:  Well, thank you Dr. Freeman for this opportunity.  With the Thanksgiving holiday season right around the corner, I usually ask others to share with LOFT101.net, what they are most thankful for.  What are you most thankful for Dr. Freeman? 
Dr. Freeman:  I am so thankful for my children.  They are my book ends.  My oldest was born in a time of my life when I was still moving and creating a foundation.  She has been right here with me forever and the one motivator that I could always depend on.  Now, I am back in the saddle with my youngest and he is so very much a part of this new season of my life!  So I am so grateful and thankful to God for my children.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Family & Friends: 3 Ideas For Holiday Fun and Energy Games For Everyone!

Want to have some fun on Thanksgiving?  Well, after everyone settles down from dinner, try some of these fun ideas and watch your family's energy soar! 

1.  Karaoke...Pass the Mic - Everyone likes to sing, even if you've never heard them before..lol! Break out the karaoke machine and start the excitement!  Ask for a volunteer to start.  Now hand the microphone to them.  When they are done, they can pass the mic to whomever they want to sing next! 

2.  Taboo Game -  OMG, can I tell you how much fun this game is?  A lot!  It's just one of those games you have to buy and have on hand to get things going! You can purchase Taboo at Walmart or Target. The cost is approximately a little over $30.00 but the fun that it creates is worth so much more! 

3.  Trivia Take, Keep or Trade - I made this game up myself (its a Loft101.net idea and very similiar to the White Elephant).  Here's my spin on how I play this game.  You have to know your family and friends very well because you will create the trivia questions for this game based around how much you know about each other.  The Trivia questions are centered around people, places and things that you know everyone will be familiar with.  The Trade off for playing a game like this is that everyone receives a GIFT!! Everyone wins♡!

Here we go...
At the start of the game, the first person to answer a question correctly, will Take a gift from under the tree or wherever the gifts are.  The turn then passes to the next person.  If that person successfully answers the question, they also take a gift from under the tree but they can either keep it or Trade their gift with the person that went first!  This pattern continues until all the gifts have been given out.  You must answer at least one trivia question correctly in order to get in the game to play! Once a player has received a gift, at this point, they will only be allowed to Keep or trade their gift with anyone else who has a gift.  The game continues until all of the trivia questions have been asked and the keeping and trading continues.  The amount of gifts needed to play this game should equal the amount of people playing to ensure that at the end of the game, everyone gets a gift!! Hint:  The person asking the questions cannot play if they purchased the gifts..lol. Also, to keep the game fun, try to ask questions on a subject that you think that the person will know because each time a question is answered correctly, someone gets the opportunity to choose a gift if they haven't already, keep the gift they have until someone takes/swaps it with them or if they decide, they cant trade their gift for someone elses!  The cool part is at the end of the game, everyone wins a gift!  No one loses♡!

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Thought for Today: Tired But Thankful!

 In our house, my husband starts setting the holiday mood, days in advance with some "old school" music harmonizing throughout the house. The aroma of a Bath & Body Works candle is crisp like an apple and the smell lets me know that its the Thanksgiving holiday!  

Truthfully, with about 7 days before the holiday, I am exhausted from cleaning, setting the tree up, dressing the table, making the grocery list and checking it twice (smile) to be sure that I have everything I need. Finally, I get so tired from running around all over town, searching to find ingredients I need to get my menu going, that I lose track of time!!  I burn myself out but I start thinking about how this is such an awesome time of the year and how thankful I am to be in the midst of this busyness! It really is a gift and blessing from God to be here. I know that I don't have to be, so I'm thankful.

I said I would share my grocery store experience with you!  Well, I have to be honest, I couldn't get pictures in the store because my battery died on me!  True story. Does this look like a picture out of your day of shopping for Thanksgiving?  So many bags and so much food.  Then you have to take everything out of the bags and put it away!!!!  Oh, it makes me tired all over again, just thinking and writing about it.  But crazy enough, if we live, we do the same thing over and over again, year after year, right? We love it!!

This is the a time of the year when we don't mind being exhausted, you agree?  It's like an old "sweet hangover", "I don't want to get over!"  Remember that Diana Ross jam back in the day!!!  Old school music is playing in my ear right now and I'm "ready, set and going" to try my best to enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday, no matter what tries to get in my way!  

Family is on the way to town and we are excited to break bread with them but before we can, I have to bake the bread first...lol!!

What makes you happy and thankful?  Whatever it is, thank God for it. Now, enjoy getting ready for the next step, cooking!  Even if you are tired and exhausted, shake it off, kick up the mood with some music and get ready to burn!!!
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Decorating Tips & Ideas to Refresh For the Holidays : Colors Burgundy, Red, Brown & Teal {Use What You Have}

What a wonderful time of the year to mix and match colors that you never thought would go together!  I'm thinking how I want to "refresh" our home decor a little for the holidays but by spending "little time & less money"...lol!  Well, I was successful in doing just that as I began to look around at things that I already had. 

I got fixed on all of the teal and blue decor that currently made our home look and feel coastal (I'm from the Jersey Shore and love water & the coastal look!) and immediately I knew that I could blend our coastal theme with other colors that would work and "perfectly pop" for this holiday season!  

Use what you have!  Look around and think about how you can enhance the colors/theme you already have in your home.  Don't be afraid to mix and match other colors or patterns that you would not normally take a second look at...lol!  Most times, those are your "pop" colors!  Dare to be different...you can do it and if you need help..I'm always here to help.  Just send me your questions ;-)!
Burgundy, red, brown and teal are the primary colors I used to "refresh" the look of our home for the holidays.  See how you can do the same ;-)!
Happy Holidays!
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Burgundy mixed with shades of blue is "rich" and different! Try it out and see how nice it will look.  At my very best using burgundy, I married up this deep burgundy lampshade with my coastal blue lamp that I purchased from Pier 1 Imports some years ago.  I truly amazed myself when I paired these two together.  I absolutely love this look and had no idea how much I would love it!  Additionally, at the very bottom of this post, I'm using some burgundy tea light lanterns with holly holiday decor to also accessorize and "refresh" my wall ladder that holds all of my favorite cookbooks!

Adding red to teal also speaks volumes in "refreshing" for a a new look.  With the holiday season,  the color red is already present in many of the things you use for decorating so by adding a pop of "red" as an accessory will only allow that primary color to stand out more!

How primary is brown when it comes to decorating?  Very!  I love the color brown.  The color is a quality hue that enhances so many other colors.  I've blended brown with a tan, baby blue and brown area rug.  Baby blue and dark brown work so well together.  I swapped out a summer area rug that was teal and white.  Simply by introducing new colors from this one accessory (area rug), I changed the entire look of my dining area.  

Coastal blues (teal, aqua, nautica, torquoise) can blend with dark colors and really change everything! Even as the seasons change, I never stop using my coastal blues because I connect those colors with "home" (New Jersey)!  When the seasons change, I enhance my coastal blues with other colors to enhance the look!  Here, I've added one of my favorite pillows (striped) with my paisley print lounge chair!  I love this "refresh" because its daring!! Prints can work together if the hues can blend together.  That's the secret and that's the trick ;-)!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Thanksgiving Menu: Traditional and Different...."Come On In!"

My menu for Thanksgiving this year is very different because it includes some choices that you would never expect to eat on Thanksgiving Day but this year for LOFT101.net, we are celebrating a Thanksgiving holiday season of "being traditional and different!" 
This year for Thanksgiving, I've created a menu with a little bit of this and little bit of that, so I'm excited that it will be a few different choices.  I've added some new dishes that are not the "traditional" choices for Thanksgiving but are very delicious! 

Now that I have my menu created, I'll be putting together my grocery list and heading to the grocery store!  Time is moving quickly, so I've got to keep moving too!! 

"Come on in" and check out my  Thanksgiving Menu for 2015....Turkey Day is only 8 days away :-)!

Keep following because I'm going grocery shopping in a few days and I'll be sharing that experience...this will be interesting...lol!!

I ♡ Thanksgiving Menu

Cajun Fried Turkey
Roasted Rosemary Turkey Wings
Honey Glazed & Maple Syrup Spiral Ham
Oven Broiled Corn Beef
Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey
Southern Style String Beans
Turkey Bacon and Honey Cabbage
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Brown Rice w/Scallions
Smashed Potatoes
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
My Grandpa's Tossed Salad
Cornbread, Sage & Mushroom Stuffing
Turkey Gravy
Buttery Biscuits
Honey Cornbread

Sweet  Potato  Pies

Homemade Pecan Pie

Apple Pie

Whipped Cream 

Vanilla Ice Cream 

Sweet Tea

Friday, November 13, 2015

Traditional Elegance: Photo Tour and Tips of My 2015 Silver & Gold Thanksgiving Theme & Table Setting...."Come On In!"

We are 13 Days away from
Thanksgiving..."Come On In!"

Come on in and join me as I add the finishing touches to my Thanksgiving table!  Just as I promised a few days ago when we put our plan in place on the last post I shared, I've just about finished dressing my table for Turkey Day!  I've also created 3 crafty ideas that are DIY101 out of this world!  You can literally create all 3 of these ideas in 20 minutes!  You will love them, your guests will love the ideas and they really do add a personal touch to your Thanksgiving dining theme and table setting. 

I love my Thanksgiving dining theme this year and as I said, I decided to go with more of a traditional look rather than contemporary.  Well, its not totally traditional but it's about as traditional as I can get because I am truly a "contemporary girl!"  I hope you enjoy my photo tour and the three 101 quick and easy creative ideas I'll be sharing with you!  The best idea about all 3 of these ideas is that you don't need scissors, glue or tape....awesome right ;-)?...love it! 

Now, don't stay away too long because I want you to check back in with me the early part of next week because I'll be sharing my Turkey Day menu with you and then after I breakdown my menu to see what I need to make each of my recipe choices, I'll write up my grocery list and off to the store I go!  Will you come with me?...lol....."yes", I'll be sharing my grocery photos too!  This is going to be funny!!!
Enjoy the tour and send me some comments!  It's Thanksgiving time and we all have something to be thankful for.  Share what you are most thankful for by sending in a comment!  I'm thankful for "all of you" following LOFT101.net!  Send me some comments....I would love to hear from you...
tty soon!
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This is my dining room table.  It seats 4 but if I add two chairs at each end, I can seat 6.  As you can see, I've added one chair to one end, for now.  Yes...we are having 5 guests over for Thanksgiving dinner!  More will arrive in the days after Thanksgiving but for now, we have enough room at our table to feast for 5...lol!!
First, I begin dressing my table with my tablecloth.  I love white table linen and most of the time I will use a white tablecloth.  As you can see, I've adorned my china cabinet with a lovely foil wreath with leaves (purchased from A.C. Moore for $5.00- clearance!)
Next, I created 3 looks for my buffet table but of course I could only choose one!  Can you guess which one I chose?  Keep scrolling to see the winner!!

This was the winner!

Ok, BREAK...let me share the 1st Creative Idea:
I've share with you so many times how much I love mason jars and the many uses they have.  Well, here's another idea!  Purchase some botanical leaves from a craft store or Home Goods.  They cost about $5.00 a pack.  I'm using leaves because that's my theme for this Thanksgiving.  You'll learn more about my "leaves theme" as you continue with the photo tour.  Pull the leaves away from the branches and separate.  Now fill your mason jars with your leaves, all the way to the top.  Let them overflow onto your table and "brilliance"... you have created a table d├ęcor for anywhere you would like to use it.  I filled up 3 mason jars and I'm using them on my buffet table.  What a wonderful way to bring nature into your home!

Ok, here's the 2nd Creative Idea
This is too easy to do.  Visit Pier 1 Imports and purchase a string of LED lights for use with centerpieces.  They sell these lights around this time of the year.  They are LED and they come in a few different colors. I like clear.  I purchased these lights last year and the only thing I had to do was to add 3 new double AA batteries to the box that sits on the end of the string.  They will brighten up a dark space like "new money!"  I love these lights.  They may cost you about $20.00 to purchase but they are so worth it.  I strung them through this fall wreath I purchased at my local Rite Aid for $5.00 (use those Rite Aid reward points to save!!).  This is the end result...love it!!!!  I'm also using this on my buffet table!

Now I'm ready to set my table!  First, I've added my gold charger plates, then my dinner plates, salad plates and bowls.  Stemware has also been added to the table settings.

Ok....Here's the 3rd Creative Idea!
Remember my "leaves", well, here they are again!  I purchased some cookie cutters in the shape of a leaf for .99 cents each and a pack of battery operated miniature wax-like candles.  Put both together and this is creativity at its best!!  It's not only a safe way to light up your table setting but it looks so good!!!  Guess what?  You now have a "favor" to give to your guest..."yes"... the cookie cutter is theirs to keep!  The light that illuminates from these battery operated candles is just soft enough for dinner lighting.  How easy is this to create?....lol!!

Next, napkins and napkin holders are coordinated and silverware is placed at each setting.  As you can see, by adding my silver and gold napkin holder, I am able to use both colors that are my favorites....silver and gold!  I added my caramel tapered candles to my candle holders for the finishing touch and now I'm done!  Moving on to my MENU plans...:-)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

MIY (Make It Yourself) Turkey Day.... Step By Step 101 To Taking the Pressure Out of Planning!

Our 2014 Thanksgiving Dinner
Our 2014 Contemporary Thanksgiving Table Setting
Well, it's 16 days before Turkey Day and I'm getting ready!  It's going to be a MIY (Make It Yourself) Thanksgiving for me, since I'm cooking!  In simple words that means "I'm making some things from scratch and some of them will be semi-scratch...LOL!!

I love to cook and bake from scratch when I have time but lately, my schedule is crazy busy and my hubby and I are hosting Thanksgiving this year...fun, fun fun!  I'm excited to be hosting Thanksgiving for a small part of my family and although I'm very busy, it's all good!  I'm a "logistician" by trade, remember?  So even for Thanksgiving Dinner, I need a plan in place if I want to pull this off successfully!!  So, I've created a step by step plan, to take the pressure off myself!   

Here it is and in the days to come, I'll show you how everything comes together for the perfect Turkey Day that my family is going to absolutely love and enjoy!!!

Step By Step........Taking The Pressure Out Of Planning

1.  Dress the table.  (2nd week of Nov) I like to start setting my table for Thanksgiving early.  Setting the table early, invites the spirit of Thanksgiving into our home weeks before Thanksgiving Day.  This year, I'll be setting my Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving Day.  Usually as a tradition, I set my tree up the day after Thanksgiving (black Friday).  My Dad started this tradition in the family and since he has passed, I still get teary eyed as the holidays approach but I honor him in continuing this tradition that hopefully I can pass on to my grandbabies one day!  This year, I'm setting up my tree early because my family is coming to town and I want the spirit of my Dad with us, so the presence of my tree will make me feel close to him, although he is not with us in the natural.

Now, as far as the table decor, I'll be dressing my table this week and you are invited to "come on in" to see what I plan to do!  Above is my table setting from last yearThis year will be different and I'll be sharing some of the craft ideas I plan to use also! 

2.  Make Your Menu & Create Your Grocery List.  (2nd week of Nov)
The same week, after I finish dressing the table, I decide on my menu and create my grocery list.  After I've decided on what we are going to feast on, I begin another list to break down what is needed for each meal on the menu list.  Too easy.  101 simple!  Get it done..  The photo above is from my menu last year. This year will be different!  "Come on in...we will share pictures of our Thanksgiving meal again this year!

3Start Grocery Shopping Early & Shop Your List Completely. (3rd week of Nov)  Start and finish grocery shopping this week!  The following week will be Thanksgiving, so it's time to start and get done with running around in the stores!  The less running you have to do, the better.  I absolutely get annoyed if I have to stop in the middle of a recipe to go to the store.  Start early and get done, that's the key to enjoying your preparation and cooking experience!  Come on in"...I'll be sharing photos of my grocery shopping experience this year as I shop my list!

4.  Start Prepping To Prepare Your Menu. (Week of Thanksgiving)
"Come on into my kitchen", as I begin prepping to prepare!  I don't like to start preparing my meal too early for a number of reasons.  Now, I do like to start prepping early.  Early for me is 4 days before Turkey Day!  That's all I need. The groceries are out of the way, I know what I'm making (from scratch stuff) and I know what I'm not making (semi-scratch stuff)...LOL!  If you like to start preparing your menu earlier, that's up to you.  Of course, follow directions for thawing your turkey properly and in time enough to roast or fry!  We are frying our baby and it's going to be awesome!  If you have never fried a turkey before, you must try it one day because it truly is a totally different experience than your normal roasted turkey.  You can purchase indoor fryers that are very safe.  Just follow directions very carefully and keep away from children!

So "let's get started to get ready for Turkey Day" and I'll check in with you soon (in about 2 days) with my table decor setting and the Thanksgiving craft ideas I promised I would share!